Eleven is a really interesting time in which to observe development; in many ways it is more akin to the six/seven year transformation and change. That same burst of complete restless energy is there, along with crying outbursts from both girls and boys, and a complete preview of adolescence to come. It is a different energy than children going through the nine year change, where the child is feeling lonely and separated.
Let’s take a closer look at the developmental qualities of an eleven-year old from a traditional perspective:
- Ten year olds are more friendly and easy-going, in general, than the eleven year old who often has a more oppositional stance.
- Eleven year olds are on the go and have a great amount of restless energy; it is hard for them to sit still
- The Gesell Institute book talks about the eleven year old as “slow to respond, quick to criticize.”
- Most eleven year olds love food, and live to eat! However, they can really be quite picky and get on “food jags” with absolute preferences. (These can change though!)
- Eleven year olds can fight, hit, kick doors, slam doors and yell, swear, talk back and say mean things. That is just eleven. The moods of an eleven year old are often at extremes.
- Eleven year olds generally really enjoy life! They love to be outside and to collect things.
- Friendships are very, very important to an eleven year old.
- Most eleven year olds behave really well away from home and with other adults; just not always mother.
- There can be a tendency toward colds, flu, ear infections, and general fatigue. By the end of the afternoon, an eleven year old can be quite wild due to fatigue. They can also be sick and miss more school this year than in other years.
- Tensional outlets can be high
- Boys show very little evidence of approaching puberty at age eleven; girls have a very individual variations of expression of puberty. Some have no trace of sexual development, and some do. Many eleven year olds will have some pubic hair by the time they hit close to age twelve, and many will also show a broader pelvic area. The average eleven year old, according to the Gesell Institute, will have reached about eighty percent of their adult height and fifty percent of their adult weight. Breast development may occur; one breast may develop faster than the other breast; breast pain and sensitivity can occur.
- Many eleven year olds will bathe willingly, but want a large amount of time in which to do this, so then bathing can end up being sporadic if “they don’t have time”. Some have a new awareness of dental care.
- Eleven is one of the most tearful ages. Fear is common. Eleven year olds may not want to be alone.
- Eleven year olds, in general, despite all this, are generally happy.
- They may be jealous and competitive.
- From the Gesell Institute: “The child must do his own growing. But the parent can provide the atmosphere which is conducive to good growth.” Ho hum, parents, ho hum. Much of the outward manifestations of anger, jealously, fear is actually against their own inner selves at this age.
- Eleven year olds notice family dynamics much, much more…they really know parents don’t know everything, know that daddy has a temper or is emotionally unavailable, know that mommy has a hard time making decisions, etc.
- Eleven is one of the worst ages for being kind to younger siblings.
- Friendships are based less upon “who is around in the neighborhood” and who an eleven year old actually likes.
- Everything is of interest to an eleven year old!
- Eleven year olds need snacks!
- Eleven year olds may need help socially; they may fight and verbally hurt each other as well.
- Eleven year olds are good about telling the truth about big things, but often will lie to protect themselves. Boys are more likely to cheat than girls, and girls are more likely to shoplift than boys.